Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 July 2004
Issue No. 698
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

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PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak arrived back to Cairo after recovering from a sensitive back operation he underwent in Germany on 26 June, reports Gamal Essam El-Din. Prior to his return, Mubarak's German doctor, Heinz-Michael Mayer, reported that the president was able to stand and take walks and could now fly back to Cairo. Mayer revealed that President Mubarak had needed a few days of rest at Munich's Orthozentrum clinic in order to recuperate completely from the surgery.

Mubarak's improving health did, however, allow him to receive three important visitors last week. On 6 July, President Mubarak received German's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (pictured right) and held talks with him on the situation in the Middle East. Schroeder highly praised President Mubarak, describing him as the most experienced politician in the Middle East. President Mubarak also received Jordan's King Abdullah II on 3 July. The Jordanian monarch, on his way back to Amman from London, wished Mubarak a speedy recovery.

The two leaders also discussed issues of mutual interest, including the emerging situation in Iraq and Egyptian and Jordanian efforts aimed at bringing the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. Egypt and Jordan, who have excellent relations, are considered two key US allies in the Middle East.

On 5 July, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also visited Mubarak. Again, a variety of issues -- including Egypt's role in securing an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian Gaza Strip -- were discussed.

Fischer described Egypt as a key partner for Europe in the Middle East, saying Mubarak's drive to bring peace to the region was indispensable.

Mubarak, 76, left Egypt for Germany on 20 June, seeking treatment for a back ailment. After five days to gauge whether physiotherapy alone would be effective, the German medical team led by Mayer decided to go forth with an operation to remove part of an intervertebral disc. With Mubarak's condition getting better, Health Minister Awad Taggeddin, who was accompanying the president, returned to Egypt on 1 July.

Before leaving Cairo on 20 June, Mubarak delegated some of his constitutional powers to Prime Minister Atef Ebeid.

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